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The Power of Political Optimism

There is a difference between optimism and naïveté. In politics today, optimism offers conservatives an inexhaustible source of infectious power that can overcome and shatter the foundations of the establishment’s fear-based version of “populism.” Indeed it is naïve to think any other approach has a chance.

Optimism has insurrectionary power because it contradicts everything the American establishment now trains voters to accept. From uniparty conformists and their corporate, academic, and media allies who package and spread the messages, to deep state agencies and plutocrats who decide on the messages, there is a common theme: pessimism. And when pessimism impels us to believe in worst-case scenarios, panic follows close behind.

What else might explain every rote proclamation that the world is coming to an end because of the climate crisis? What else explains why millions of American children are coping with mental illness, suicidal thoughts, and hopelessness for the future? They’ve been convinced the earth is on the brink of burning up. What else accounts for educated adults utterly convinced that the planet may soon be uninhabitable? What else lends apocalyptic context to every report—a staple now part of all reporting on hurricanes, floods, or winter storms?

It isn’t merely the end of our planetary biosphere that has turned half the nation into compliant defeatists. Along with the climate emergency we have a health emergency that even now finds millions of Americans afraid to congregate, afraid to take off their masks, afraid to get a job or go to school.

The […] Read More

Will “The California Promise” Become a Movement?

According to Joe Garofoli, senior political writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, “The California Promise,” announced by Assembly Republicans on October 5, is “short on Trumpisms, but also on innovative policy ideas.”

There’s a lot to unpack in that remark. Very few Republican politicians in California will openly say what most Republican voters in California believe, which is that despite his imperfections as a politician and peccadillos as a man, Donald Trump’s policies are mostly sound.

Until Republican politicians are willing to walk that tightrope, Garofoli’s words present a fatal paradox. How can you promote meaningful solutions that match the scale of California’s problems, if every solution you offer is either “Trumpian,” because Trump would avidly support it, or tepid, because only tepid solutions escape Trump’s endorsement?

After all, it was Trump who was willing to remind America that climate change hysteria, and the attendant fascist transitions being imposed to combat the alleged crisis, is based on what remains a theory filled with holes. It was Trump who suggested we thin the forests the way they do in Scandinavia, and was mocked for his supposed stupidity. Pick any big idea full of common sense that will stop the Democratic machine that feeds on failure, and Trump probably said it.

But even if Trump hasn’t gone on the record to say we need to bring back the timber industry if we’re serious about stopping forest fires, or that denying the sale of advanced hybrid cars by 2035 is short-sighted and […] Read More

How One Candidate Beat the Odds in the One Party State of California

Anyone who thinks it is impossible for Republicans in California to regain relevance has not studied the campaign, and improbable victory, of Josh Hoover. The odds were against Hoover, who ran against a seasoned incumbent Democrat, five term Assemblyman Ken Cooley. The redrawn 7th District, with 38 percent registered Democrats versus 32 percent Republicans, favored Cooley. To make matters much more challenging, Cooley’s campaign spent $4.8 million compared to Hoover’s $1.7 million.

Hoover won by 1,383 votes, less than one percent, and how he did it is a case study in how California’s Republican candidates can win despite having far less money and a registration disadvantage. Reached by phone earlier this week, Hoover said that while there were a lot of factors in the race that came into play, the most obvious explanation for his victory was that he simply outworked his opponent in making direct contact with individual voters. The Hoover campaign mustered far more people to send texts, make phone calls, and walk door to door.

Cooley, by contrast, during the final month was spending over $250,000 per week on television and radio ads. Throughout the campaign Cooley was mass mailing expensive campaign flyers. Cooley’s campaign relied on mudslinging, like so many do, but it may have backfired on him. When a household has received over dozen flyers attacking Josh Hoover as a Trumpian misogynistic book burning extremist, they’re taken aback when they meet the candidate and realize he’s not a monster at all, […] Read More

How Local Taxpayers Involuntarily Fund Left Wing Groups

Earlier this month a San Diego based group “The Transparency Foundation” released a fifty page report documenting widespread use of taxpayer funds to support “lobbying, issue advocacy, and political activities.”

Entitled “Follow the Money: San Diego County,” the report alleges “extensive coordination between government agencies and these Left-wing groups for both funding and policy development, with no apparent control on their lobbying and political activities.” The report claims the funds are being made available through government contracts and grants, as well as through “in-kind use of government staffing resources under the guise of membership on ‘advisory’ working groups.”

In a series of detailed exhibits, the report focuses on ten “so-called non-profit, non-partisan groups,” Alliance San Diego, Center on Policy Initiatives, Environmental Health Coalition, Mid-City Community Advocacy Network, PANA, Youth Will, San Diego Pride, Sand Diego LGBT Community Center, San Diego Organizing Project, and Climate Action Campaign. The report alleges these organizations each have engaged in some or all of the following activities: Targeted get-out-the-vote efforts, and lobbying for partisan political agendas, including expansion of government welfare, union mandates, tax increases, defunding the police, government subsidized mass transit, government subsidized housing projects, expanding rights for illegal immigrants, rent control, “Green New Deal” environmental regulations such as a mandate to force homeowners to retrofit their homes to eliminate natural gas appliances, and more.

The nine month investigation documented over $6.6 million in taxpayer funds diverted to these ten organizations in San Diego County during just one fiscal year 2020-21. But […] Read More

The “Reparations” Scam

California is considering paying “reparations” to black Californians who are directly descended from enslaved people, which may surprise most Californians. After all, slavery was never legal in the Golden State.

Governor Gavin Newsom, heedless of the fiasco he’s inviting, formed a “Reparations Task Force,” no doubt with his future presidential aspirations in mind. The task force issued an interim report in June, detailing California’s “historyof slavery and racism and recommending ways the Legislature might begin a process of redress for Black Californians, including proposals to offer housing grants, free tuition, and to raise the minimum wage.”

To understand how slavery is applicable to California, one must sift through the report’s 500 pages of convoluted logic common to the victim industry in America. According to the report:

“In 1883, the Supreme Court interpreted the 13th Amendment as empowering Congress ‘to pass all laws necessary and proper for abolishing all badges and incidents of slavery in the United States.’ However, throughout the rest of American history, instead of abolishing the ‘badges and incidents of slavery,’ the United States federal, state and local governments, including California, perpetuated and created new iterations of these ‘badges and incidents.’ The resulting harms have been innumerable and have snowballed over generations. Today, 160 years after the abolition of slavery, its badges and incidents remain embedded in the political, legal, health, financial, educational, cultural, environmental, social, and economic systems of the United States of America. Racist, false, and harmful stereotypes created to support slavery continue to […] Read More

Election Results Here at Last; California’s GOP Still in Decline

On December 16, nearly 40 days after the November mid-term elections, California’s Secretary of State finally released the “Statement of Vote.” This document is the official and final record of the winners and losers. What is belatedly certain is what we knew all along. California’s GOP did not arrest the catastrophic slide that defines its performance so far in the 21st century.

Before covering what by any objective standard was a dismal performance overall, it is appropriate to highlight a few bright spots. California’s GOP delegation to the U.S. Congress increased from 11 members to 12, although the real turnaround, or perhaps “mini-turnaround” is more apt, was in 2020 when the GOP’s congressional caucus representing California had bounced back up to 11 from the rock-bottom 7 members that had survived the 2018 election.

With the single uptick logged this November, these 12 Republicans represent 23 percent of California’s 52 member Congressional delegation.

Notable in the GOP’s incremental gain this year was the victory of John Duarte, a newcomer to politics who in a fight for an open seat edged out the formidable Adam Gray, a moderate Democrat who had already served five terms in the state assembly. In a bruising fight, Duarte edged Gray by 564 votes in the 13th District, where 43 percent of voters are registered Democrats, versus only 28 percent registered Republicans.

Gaining one seat in the U.S. Congress was the one welcome bit of contradictory data in what was otherwise a […] Read More

Reforming the California Environmental Quality Act

Environmentalism became a national priority in the 1970s, and not a moment too soon. In California, for example, the legendary smog of the Los Angeles Basin was matched by barely breathable air in the Santa Clara Valley up north, the entire southern end of the San Francisco Bay was on track to be filled in to build homes and industrial parks, and the magnificent California Condor was about to go extinct. On land, over water, and in the air, the footprint of civilization was stomping away, heedless of its environmental impact. Something had to be done.

In parallel with a national response, in 1970 the California State Legislature passed the CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act. Initially requiring the government to consider and mitigate the environmental impact of public projects, in 1972 CEQA was amended to include any private project that required a permit from a public agency.

Today CEQA has become a monster. If a public agency determines a project will have a “significant” effect on the environment, it will require an Environmental Impact Report, or “EIR,” to be prepared. The original guidelines for an EIR were ten pages. Today, the checklist consumes 489 pages. Needless to say there are legions of environmental professionals available to consult with project developers to prepare these EIRs. And the complexity and ambiguity of the standards required to determine what constitutes “significant environmental impact,” along with a similar lack of clarity over what constitutes appropriate mitigation, makes successfully preparing an EIR […] Read More

The Wasteland of Leftist Compassion

Compassion is one of the greatest of human virtues. But effective compassion comes with an obligation to do more than merely what feels good and sounds good. Public policies motivated by compassion must also take into account the full complexity of the challenge, the unintended consequences, the reality of human nature, and strike a balance between what is desired and what is possible. Often the most beneficial expressions of compassion seem tough and punitive, yet are the ones that offer more lasting and comprehensive solutions. Without taking a balanced and holistic approach to compassion, public policy is hijacked by special interests who reap perpetual profit from working on a problem that never goes away. For them, ineffective compassion is good business. But it leaves behind a wasteland.

In American politics, if envy and resentment are the currency of the Left, driving their attacks on privilege and their demands for equity, then compassion is the gold that backs that currency. Emotional appeals to voters and politicians to display compassion are the means by which the Left claims the moral high ground. And in those appeals, and the misguided policies that result, entire industries are created. Industries populated by individuals whose careers depend on perpetuating the fraud.

In many cases, the consequences of unbalanced compassion is obvious, as anyone can see if they visit the coastal cities of California. It was compassion that motivated state legislators to decriminalize hard drug addiction, now dubbed “substance use disorder.” Compassion was the moral justification […] Read More

These Projects Can Solve the Water Crisis and Protect Farms

Despite seasonal rainfall at normal levels so far this year, the California Department of Water Resources on Dec. 1 announced an initial State Water Project allocation of 5% of requested supplies for 2023. Unless heavy rains or new policies change this decision, it will mark the third consecutive year that the State Water Project delivered only 5% to its customers.

This is an avoidable problem. By the end of December 2021, for example, only three months into the water year, two massive storm systems had already dumped more than 104 million acre-feet onto California’s watersheds. Almost none of it was captured by reservoirs or diverted into aquifers.

For nearly 40 years, the political consensus in California has been to cope with droughts by increasing conservation mandates. During that time, the state’s population has increased from 24 million to nearly 40 million, and farm production has increased in virtually every category. But due to conservation, agricultural water use has been constant, averaging about 34 million acre-feet per year.

Several factors are breaking this model despite a 40-year history of alleged success. Replacing flood irrigation with drip irrigation was a short-term solution. Flood irrigation in the fields downstream from the Sierra mimicked annual flooding prior to the construction of dams and levees—and replenished the aquifers.

Increased environmental requirements for less water diversion from rivers for agriculture have forced additional groundwater pumping at the same time as those aquifers were no longer being replenished by flood irrigation. As depleted aquifers collapse and percolation […] Read More

Increased Supply Lowers Prices More Than Gas Tax Repeal

California Assemblyman James Gallagher is one of the architects of The California Promise, a six point set of political priorities unveiled by the state’s Republican Party in October. First among these is “An Affordable California,” and first in that category is “Repeal Gas Tax.”

To emphasize this priority even further, on the top of the Assemblyman Gallagher’s home page a counter has been installed, showing how long it’s been “Since Newsom & Democrats Promised Gas Tax Relief.” As of this moment on the afternoon of December 8, that’s 274 days, 19 hours, 25 minutes, and 15 seconds.”

It would be great to have a gas tax holiday in California. It is a regressive tax that adds, per gallon, 54 cents in state excise tax, 23 cents for California’s cap-and-trade program, 18 cents for the state’s low-carbon fuel program, 2 cents for underground gas storage fees, plus state and local sales taxes. Altogether this equals, not including another 18.4 cents in federal excise tax, and give or take a few cents depending on local sales tax rates, $1.20 to the price of every gallon of gasoline you buy.

Nonetheless it is a mistake to put so much emphasis on a gas tax repeal. At a time when California’s much vaunted budget surplus has suddenly morphed into an estimated deficit of at least $25 billion in the next fiscal year, what was already a hard sell becomes impossible. Try to stop taxes from going up even […] Read More